When I grew up in Winnipeg, the night before Hallowe'en was customarily known as "gate night," when bands of teenagers too old for trick-or-treating went around egging houses, streaming rolls of toilet paper through trees, putting all sorts of disgusting things in mail boxes, and in general behaving in ways that were sure to charm… Continue reading Gate Night Mischief at Hibben’s
Picking up from my last post about the fantastic photo of Vancouver's Clarke & Stuart, here's one that takes us inside a 19th-century bookstore: T.N. Hibben & Co. of Victoria. Here we can see all the wonderful books lining the walls (floor to ceiling, at least on the right) and displayed down the middle. I feel like I… Continue reading Going Inside T.N. Hibben & Co.
In Book of Small, her memoir about her childhood in Victoria, Emily Carr recalls the red cardboard sign that Thomas Napier Hibben hung in his bookstore's window each December, its "Merry Christmas" message written with cotton wool. In nineteenth-century Victoria (as now, judging by the lineup at my local bookstore the other day), Christmas shoppers flocked to… Continue reading Christmas at the Nineteenth-Century Bookstore
After Seth Tilley sold his Colonial Bookstore in New Westminster to Victoria's Hibben & Carswell in 1863, they took on a local partner named George Cubitt Clarkson, who operated the store as Clarkson & Co. Born in Ontario Born in 1843 in Ontario (or Upper Canada, as it was then called), George was the eldest child… Continue reading George Clarkson of Clarkson & Co., New Westminster Bookseller
In the 1890s, T.N. Hibben & Co. was the place to meet in Victoria. "On a Saturday afternoon, or in the evenings, when the stores were open, you were sure to meet just about everyone you knew waiting for somebody else in Hibben's store, poking among the books and passing the time of day with other people who… Continue reading Mary Stewart: “Knew More about Books than Anyone Else in Victoria”
I just received this image of James Carswell, Thomas Hibben's early bookselling partner in Victoria, from the Royal BC Museum and Archives. Newly digitized from a plate glass negative, it is the only one I have found so far of James. I felt a rush at finally seeing the face of someone from the distant… Continue reading The Irrepressible James Carswell of Hibben & Carswell, Victoria
When Thomas Napier Hibben opened his bookstore in Victoria in October 1858 (buying out William Kierski's establishment on Yates Street), he likely could not have imagined that he was starting one of the longest-running bookstores in Victoria's history. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1827, Hibben had already amassed several years' experience as a bookseller in San Francisco… Continue reading Thomas Napier Hibben Starts One of Victoria’s Longest-Running Bookstores
"The first bookstore in Victoria was Kierski's," wrote Glennis Zilm in her 1981 thesis about the history of trade book publishing in BC in the nineteenth century (1). "Little is known about Kierski's," she added, and with that, Kierski's story seems to have rested in silence ever since. And little wonder. Unearthing anything about Kierski… Continue reading William Kierski: First Bookseller in Victoria
Not unlike the bookstores of today, booksellers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries supplemented their book, magazine, and newspaper offerings with a wide assortment of stationery and "fancy goods," such as leather products, toys, home decor items, novelties, giftware, and greeting cards. In the last category, Valentine's Day presented a major opportunity to… Continue reading Valentines! Valentines!